Total beginner... Nearly killed my ficus microcarpa!

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Total beginner... Nearly killed my ficus microcarpa!

Postby Laurynangela » October 19th, 2017, 1:49 pm

Hi guys,

Apologies in advance for the novel...

I'm a complete gardening beginner - I've barely so much as watered a plant before. About 5 years back, my husband and I purchased a ficus macrocarpa as a memento to a baby we lost, stupidly thinking that keeping a bonsai was just a matter of keeping it alive. My husband has lovingly kept him watered over the years, but never really fertilised or anything and he had a maybe a dozen or so leaves on maybe one or two branches that were very leggy.

Flash forward to about a month ago, and I have suddenly developed a real interest in the beauty of bonsai and without any knowledge or research decided to give him a prune and fertilise. :shock: He was in normal (not bonsai) potting soil and I kept him soaking in a puddle - needless to say, after about 2 weeks his leaves turned yellow and started dropping. After some research, I discovered my massive error and my dad came over and helped me mix in some gravel into the soil, emergency trim his roots to make sure they weren't rotten and within a day or two he's started sprouting new leaves! :worship:

As an aside... in my research, I've discovered that ficus macrocarpa's aren't considered real bonsai in the community because of their bulgy roots - we actually picked the plant with the bulgiest roots we could find because I have a bit of a soft spot for ugly things ;) . One day when I'm a little more confident that I can grow something without killing it, I'll graduate to a 'prettier' plant, but for now - I love his bulges!

Anywho, I digress...Just this week, I've given him some Seasol and he seems to be responding nicely with another few leaves in the same spot. I've trimmed off any branches that had died, except for a little stumpy bit in the middle because I don't have proper cutting tools yet and I'm afraid to maim him.

Obviously, after being somewhat neglected for a number of years, I know it will take some time before he really starts developing, but I just wanted to get a little confirmation that I'm on the right track since we're right in the heart of spring and I'm thinking that the next few months will be crucial to getting him back on the right track...

I plan to alternate Seasol and fertiliser weekly (so each applied fortnightly) through spring and summer, and then stretch fertilising to monthly after that. We're in a dark little apartment, so he lives on our balcony which gets morning sun until around middayish (less in winter). I know he looks vert sad and sorry at the moment (images below), but his lovely new leaves give me hope that he will survive my almost killing him with love. Is there anything else I should be doing to encourage new growth and make sure he's a healthy, happy little guy?

Thanks for any help in advance!
Lauryn

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Laurynangela
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Re: Total beginner... Nearly killed my ficus microcarpa!

Postby robb63 » October 19th, 2017, 2:50 pm

Welcome ;Lauryn,I can't open your pics but the important thing to keep your fig going it
sounds like your on the right track. Figs can take quite a battering and still stay alive. Just imagine the
ones on rock walls or in concrete cracks around Sydney roads. Surviving for years on nothing much
until their roots reach nutrients then BAM of they go.
If you intend keeping it in same pot then some good bonsai mix will help. If you have not cut off many roots yet
then trim them when changing the soil in a month or even two. By then it will be healthier because it sounds like
its already responding to the improvements. If it didn't get root rot in plain potting mix then it will do well just
with the added gravel and a weekly dose of seasol. Try to allow it to get a bit dry between watering.
Scratch away some surface soil gently to see your maintaining damp rather than wetness and it should continue
to improve for you. I think more figs die from over watering than anything else.
good luck, I hope you keep it alive and healthy for many years.
Bob
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Re: Total beginner... Nearly killed my ficus microcarpa!

Postby melbrackstone » October 19th, 2017, 3:37 pm

Welcome to ausbonsai Lauryn, sounds like you're heading in the right direction with your fig.

I had figs that I ignored for over 15 years and they're still alive, and definitely kicking now I'm feeding them. :)

Agree with Bob, don't over water, and hopefully with the extra drainage your tree will look better faster.

Check out all the fig stories on the forum and you'll find lots of info. :)
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Re: Total beginner... Nearly killed my ficus microcarpa!

Postby Laurynangela » October 20th, 2017, 8:45 am

Thank you so much for your insight and warm welcome robb63 and melbrackstone! :D

I'm so amazed at how quickly he responded to a good drainage and a feed! I'm in awe of some of the beautiful works of art that people have created in their bonsai's so I'll be digging through the archives for more info.

Thanks again guys - enjoy your weekend! :)
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